Phils could trade Jim Thome to AL

Updated: June 29, 2012, 6:32 PM ET
By Jayson Stark | ESPN.com

PHILADELPHIA -- The Philadelphia Phillies are quietly making Jim Thome available to American League teams looking for a designated hitter, executives of two AL clubs said Thursday.

Thome
Thome

Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. wouldn't confirm to ESPN.com that he already has talked to other teams, but the GM would not rule out a deal that would send the 41-year-old Thome to a club that could give him more regular playing time.

"The ideal situation right now, because he can't really play defense in the National League, would be for Jim to play in the American League," Amaro said. "He still has the ability to win a game for us and be productive off the bench. The problem is, the further away he gets from regular at-bats, the more difficult it becomes for him to do that. So we'll see what happens. We'll keep in contact with some clubs and see if there's the right fit out there for Jim and for the Phillies."

The Phillies signed Thome to a one-year, $1.25 million contract last winter, with the hope they could use him occasionally to play first base while Ryan Howard was recovering from a ruptured Achilles tendon. However, Thome was able to start just four games at first before landing on the disabled list April 29 because of a flare-up of a chronic back condition.

Thome also had difficulty adjusting to pinch hitting, going 0 for 10, with seven strikeouts, before his DL stint.

But when Thome came off the injured list this month and got a chance to start nine straight games as a DH during interleague play, he went an eye-opening 12 for 36 (.333) with four home runs, 14 RBIs, a .415 on-base percentage and a .722 slugging percentage.

During that time, Thome told friends in the game he realized that he still had the ability to be a productive player, but only as a DH. So he has since informed the Phillies that he would be willing to accept a trade to the AL if they could find a situation that worked for both of them.

Thome's preference, his friends have said, would be to return to one of the clubs he already has played for -- preferably the Indians or White Sox, because they're both in contention.

However, neither of those teams needs a DH at the moment. Adam Dunn is serving as the White Sox's full-time designated hitter, and Travis Hafner is close to coming off the disabled list to return to his role as DH for the Indians.

While Thome doesn't have a no-trade clause, Amaro said he would "be respectful" in trying to accommodate the veteran's wishes.

"If there's a situation out there that benefits both Jim and the Phillies," Amaro said, "we'll try to put something together."

Amaro declined to comment on how actively the Phillies are attempting to deal Thome and wouldn't discuss whether the club has a time frame in mind for moving him.

But an official of one AL team told ESPN.com: "I think they're ready" to trade him right now.

Sources told ESPN the Magazine's Buster Olney the Yankees and Rays are not interested in acquiring Thome.

Jayson Stark | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com

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